by Western Illinois University 148 views
MACOMB, IL -- In September 1959, the first English Bulldog joined the Western Illinois University family to serve as the University's official mascot. While two other four-legged Rockys have been a part of Western after the "original" arrived in 1959, [other Bulldogs served as "unofficial" mascots over the years], it wasn't until 1973 that the "two-legged" Col. Rock (aka Rocky) costumed mascot made his debut.
Claude Lewis, a senior communication arts and science major, came up with the idea in 1973 for a costumed mascot to replace the recently retired four-legged mascot. It was only fitting that it was Lewis who donned the first costume, which was made out of paper mache and fabric, created by a designer in Florida.
Lewis, who is the vice president of human resources for Senior Flexonics GA Precision in Franklin, WI, returned to the WIU campus Homecoming 2013 weekend to serve as the Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal.
According to Lewis, he came up with the idea on the way to Daytona Beach, FL with his Delta Sigma Phi fraternity brothers after a side trip to the newly opened Disney World during Spring Break. After seeing all the costumed characters around the park, Lewis' idea for Rocky was born. He made his debut that September at a football game.
"I really don't remember a lot about my first performance as Rocky, but I do recall that it was pretty hot during that first football game and it was a little difficult to get around in the costume," he recalled.
While Lewis was the man behind the idea (and the mask), his time in the costume was fairly short-lived.
"The powers-that-be were a little on the conservative side, and I had a little too much fun as Rocky," Lewis laughed. "I wore the costume for a few games, and then turned it over to another student. While my stint was short, it was fun and the mascot has lived on."
The appearance of the costumed mascot has undergone many transformations since that original papier-mâché mask debuted 40 years ago, most recently Fall 2013, when Intercollegiate Athletics updated Rock's costume once again.
Rocky is a constant presence at games and athletic events, Discover Western days and other University activities, where he gets the crowd revved up, displaying his signature dance moves and high fives.
Just as Rocky's look has evolved over the years, so have his antics. And being Rocky takes a lot more than just slipping on a costume and running around a field or arena. The student taking on the larger-than-life persona has to be able to handle being inside a costume when temperatures soar, while maintaining a vigorous pace and entertaining a crowd.
According to Cara Cerullo, WIU head cheerleading coach (football) and Rocky's "handler," the student selected to wear the costume must prove to be an entertainer. The mascot is chosen through try-outs each spring, and as part of the rigors of travel and performing, is rewarded with a book scholarship. The cheerleading coaches and other judges select the mascot. Tryouts consist of a mini-performance in uniform and responding to a questionnaire. Once the lucky person is selected to wear the uniform and represent WIU, he/she attends the University Cheerleaders Association (UCA) Mascot Camp during the summer to further hone his/her mascot skills.
"Rocky is a memorable and essential part of Western Illinois University athletics traditions. He is a vital marketing tool for the University, but more importantly his contagious spirit and enthusiasm serves to energize any crowd at University events," Cerullo added. "The students behind the mascot are held to the same standards as WIU cheerleaders, and must be willing to devote large amounts of time. They will not be known by name throughout their experience leading the University, but they will have made a name for the University."
Read more about the history of Rocky, at http://www.wiu.edu/news/newsrelease.php?release_id=11091
by Western Illinois University 355 views
MACOMB, IL -- Alumni and friends came home to the Western Illinois University campus Oct. 11-12 for the Western Illinois University Alumni Association's annual Homecoming festivities. The theme of this year's event was "The Rocky Games-Western Is United."
Before alumni arrived back at Western Oct. 11 and 12, WIU students had a full week of activities prior to the annual weekend, beginning with Paint the Paws on Friday, Oct. 4.
by Western Illinois University 177 views
For 25 years, Western Illinois University students have been participating in Paint the Paws (PTP). What has become one of the student events that kicks off Homecoming Week each year, PTP now involves students, faculty, staff, and alumni, who come out the Friday afternoon the weekend before Homecoming (this year it was Oct. 4) and paint Rocky's Paw Prints on University Drive and Western Ave. The Prints are a symbol that alumni recognize every year, as they follow the Paws to Hanson Field, where the Fighting Leathernecks play the traditional WIU Homecoming game Saturday afternoon of Homecoming Weekend.
For more information about Western Illinois University's Homecoming 2013, visit http://www.wiu.edu/alumni/homecoming.php
by Western Illinois University 487 views
MACOMB, IL -- Alumni and friends will descend on the Western Illinois University campus, joining current students, October 3-12 to celebrate Homecoming 2013: "The Rocky Games: Western Is United."
Homecoming 2013 officially kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 with the annual Celebrating Town & Gown event. Everyone is invited to celebrate what President Jack Thomas and Macomb Mayor Mike Inman have accomplished over the past year for the WIU and Macomb communities. The Honorary Alumni and Town & Gown awards will also be presented.
In addition, Rocky on Parade will be unveiled at this year's event. Join the sponsors in viewing the 14 Rocky sculptures as they are unveiled for the first time. Following Homecoming, the sculptures will be displayed at various locations throughout campus and the City of Macomb.
Also on Thursday evening, Oct. 3, students may meet with the candidates for Homecoming king and queen. Voting for the candidates, through STARS or at Homecoming Committee tables located in the Union Concourse, will be available through Wednesday, Oct. 9.
At 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, Western students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends can meet on the front lawn of Western Hall to Paint the Paws along University Drive and Western Avenue. Beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 student groups will Paint the Town for Spirit Day. Sunday, Oct. 6 Rocky's Boat Regatta begins at noon in Everly Park, followed by Dec the Campus.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8 the Variety Show in Western Hall will begin with host comedian Jay Black. Wednesday, Oct. 9 is the Purple and Gold Extravaganza throughout campus, and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, the annual Yell Like Hell cheer competition, during which the Homecoming royalty will be named, will be held in Western Hall.
From 5-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, alumni and friends are invited to attend the All-Alumni Social at the Alumni House.
Leatherneck Pride will be shining at its brightest Saturday, Oct. 12. At 8 a.m., Homecoming game day kicks off with the "Old Stompin' Ground Runaround," a 5K run/1.5-mile walk ($15/person) beginning at the WIU Alumni House. The Homecoming parade begins at 10:30 a.m. starting in downtown Macomb and will wind back through the WIU campus.
Alumni Homecoming events Saturday, Oct. 12 also include a 9:30 a.m. complimentary breakfast at the Alumni House, as well as a pre-game cookout ($5/person), from noon-3 p.m., in "The Right Place" tent, located north of Hanson Field. Activities culminate with Saturday's 3 p.m. WIU Fighting Leathernecks football game ($15/ticket) against South Dakota State at Hanson Field.
For those graduating 25, 40, 50 or 60 years ago, weekend festivities are planned to celebrate classes of 1953, 1963, 1973 and 1988. A special Reunion Recognition Brunch and Social ($5/person) will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 12) at the Alumni House for reunion attendees.
For more information about WIU Homecoming, including reunion events and all student events, visit wiu.edu/alumni.
by Western Illinois University 993 views
MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University student, Miss Illinois Megan Ervin, was named grand marshall of the 2012 Homecoming Parade held Saturday, Sept. 22.
This year marked the 89th annual Homecoming celebration at WIU, themed "Cirque Du Western: The Carnival Never Ends."
Ervin, a Rushville native and WIU senior, majoring in exercise science, was named Miss Illinois in July. Ervin is also a previous Miss Macomb titleholder and will compete for Miss America in January.
For more information about Western Illinois University Homecoming events, visit the Alumni Association website at http://wiu.edu/alumni/homecoming
by Western Illinois University 403 views
Scenes from the Variety Show and Yell Like Hell at Western Illinois University during Homecoming 2012.
Footage was shot by WIU student blogger, Rachel. To see Rachel's RockeNetwork Blog, visit http://bit.ly/QXzVLV
Music in this video was recorded during the Homecoming 2011 parade at the Marching Leathernecks' performance in front of the Alumni House at WIU.
by Western Illinois University 416 views
Students, alumni, faculty and staff took part in Western Illinois University's annual Homecoming kick-off tradition, Paint the Paws. In 2012, the event took place Friday, Sept. 14 as the official start to Homecoming Week 2012.
Hosted by the Student Alumni Leadership Council (SALC), the yearly Paint the Paws event involves the painting of more than 200 paws along University Drive and Western Ave.
Get all the info. about Homecoming 2012 at http://wiu.edu/alumni/homecoming.php
by Western Illinois University 1,333 views
MACOMB, IL -- Alumni and friends are invited back to Western Illinois University's 89th Homecoming Celebration -- Cirque Du Western: The Carnival Never Ends.
Western's Alumni Association will welcome back past students and friends for activities and get-togethers Friday, Sept. 21, and Saturday, Sept. 22, for Homecoming and to celebrate the official 25/40/50 Year Reunion. WIU students will also be busy earning points for their residence halls or organizations by attending and participating in events -- including Yell Like Hell, a variety show, the parade float competition and the king and queen contest throughout the week preceding Homecoming Weekend.
An All-Alumni Social, with complimentary food and beverages, kicks off the weekend from 5-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 at the Alumni House.
Homecoming Day starts with the traditional Old Stompin' Ground Runaround 5K Run/2 Mile Walk beginning at 8 a.m. with registration from 7-7:45 a.m. at the Alumni House. The 2012 race route is available online at http://www.wiu.edu/alumni/race.php. Starting at 9 a.m., complimentary coffee and donuts will be served at the Alumni House.
At the Alumni House, stake out your spot for one of the best views of the Homecoming Parade, which begins just off of the Macomb Square at 10:30 a.m.
From noon-3 p.m. there will be an alumni and friends cookout at "The Right Place," the large tent just west of Hanson Field, where faculty and administrators from the colleges and across campus will be available to meet and greet alumni and friends. Everyone is welcome even if you do not plan to eat.
At 3 p.m. the Fighting Leathernecks square off against in-state rival Illinois State University at Hanson Field.
After the game, the Western Illinois University Alumni Association invites all WIU alumni and friends to the Saturday Night All-Alumni Social and Reunion Recognition Event at the Alumni House. Reunion attendees from the classes of 1962, 1972 and 1987 will be introduced at this event. More information is available at wiu.edu/alumni/reunion.php.
Homecoming reservations and tickets can be purchased online at http://www.wiu.edu/alumni/homecoming.php. Click on "Register Today." The Right Place cookout is $5; football tickets are $10; a 5K run/2 mile walk T-shirt is $10, among many other options.
Visit http://www.wiu.edu/alumni/events/homecoming for updated information. Information for specific student events is available at http://uub.wiu.edu.
For more information, contact the Alumni Association at (309) 298-1914, or A-Association@wiu.edu.
by Western Illinois University 838 views
Marching Leathernecks (in the 2011 Homecoming Parade) performing in front of the Western Illinois University Alumni House. Learn more about the Marching Leathernecks at http://www.wiu.edu/cofac/bands/ensembles/marching_band/ or on the WIU Bands Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/WIUBands
Visit the WIU Alumni Association for information about WIU's annual Homecoming celebration at http://www.wiu.edu/alumni/
by Western Illinois University 381 views
Western Illinois University's Homecoming 2011 celebration took place Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1. The theme for the 2011 celebration was, "Past, Present and Future: Once a Leatherneck, Always a Leatherneck." Bruce Bricker, of rural Macomb, was the 2011 Homecoming Parade Grand Marshall. Bricker graduated from WIU in 1939. He was Western's first Homecoming King in 1938, and he turned 94 in August 2011.
Visit the Western Illinois University Alumni Association at http://www.wiu.edu/alumni/